Moody’s Puts First Republic, Five US Banks on Downgrade Watch

(Bloomberg) -- Moody’s Investors Service placed First Republic Bank and five other US lenders on review for downgrade, the latest sign of concern over the health of regional financial firms following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.

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Western Alliance Bancorp., Intrust Financial Corp., UMB Financial Corp., Zions Bancorp. and Comerica Inc. were the other lenders put on review by Moody’s. The credit rating company cited concerns over the lenders’ reliance on uninsured deposit funding and unrealized losses in their asset portfolios.

The move comes after US bank stocks were pummeled, even as the government rescued SVB’s depositors and unveiled a new lending facility to support lenders’ financing and prevent more bank runs. Moody’s also downgraded Signature Bank and withdrew its credit rating, following the lender’s closure over the weekend.

San Francisco-based First Republic dropped a record 62% on Monday, while Phoenix-based Western Alliance tumbled an unprecedented 47%. Dallas-based Comerica slid 28%.

In the case of First Republic, Moody’s said its share of deposits that exceed the Federal insurance threshold make its funding profile more sensitive to rapid, large withdrawals.

“If it were to face higher-than-anticipated deposit outflows and liquidity backstops proved insufficient, the bank could need to sell assets, thus crystalizing unrealized losses,” Moody’s said. The bank’s available-for-sale and held-to-maturity securities made up more than a third of its common equity tier-1 capital as of December, it added.

First Republic said earlier that it has enhanced and diversified its financial position through access to additional liquidity from the Federal Reserve and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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